Do we trade indulgences with carbon offsetting?

The urgency of the global climate crisies can no longer be denied. The scientific facts and the regional and global climate changes that are now evident to all of us are crystal clear. We must take decisive action now in the hope of mitigating the worst effects of the global climate crisis.

That's exactly why we brought GoClimateAction to life. It stands for an attitude as to how we want to leave our footprint on this world. This must undoubtedly become smaller and more sustainable.

What is the goal of GoClimateAction?

Our objective is to raise public awareness of the issue of climate action. Although the consequences of the global climate crisis are already clearly noticeable today, many of us still have comparatively little knowledge of the causes and consequences of climate change. And when asked what we can personally do to counteract the climate crisis, the response is very often simply “eat less meat” And “ride more bike and train instead of using your car”.

But this alone will not be enough. We have to embark on the path to complete climate neutrality in business and society as quickly as possible. In the short and medium term, we can only do this through the interplay of emissions avoidance, emission reduction and finally offsetting and removing the remaining greenhouse gas emissions.This is how it works.

We offer - in addition to many tips for climate action in everyday life - the opportunity to offset your personal carbon footprint with international certified carbon reduction projects and thus already live climate neutral today. We want to help you to develop an even greater awareness of climate action in everyday life and to actively implement it.

Carbon offsetting means not only looking at ourselves in the so called developed world. As a justification for rejecting climate action measures in Europe, it is often pointed out that i.e. Germany only has a direct share of approx. 2% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions and that all domestic climate protection efforts would accordingly be globally ineffective. However, this is only half the story. Our responsibility for the global climate is much greater than this.

  • First of all, a large part of food and consumer goods consumed in Europe are imported and thus produced abroad, which means that we also share responsibility for greenhouse gases that are generated during the production processes in relatively emission-intensive production facilities abroad.
  • In Europe, we have a per capita emissions footprint of approx. twice as high than the world average - i.e. we are one of the main causes of the global climate crisis per capita.
  • Europe is one of the wealthiest regions in the world. If even we cannot and do not want to make a contribution to combating global climate change, who should be responsible for the future world of our children?

Information on the global climate crisis and climate action tips

The way to a climate neutral lifestyle is a process for all of us. The Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 and the European Union climate targets aim for all of us to be climate neutral by 2050. In order to be able to achieve this goal, we have to take many small and concrete steps. This requires information on the causes of climate change and motivation to implement climate action measures in everyday life. A first small step towards avoiding or reducing emissions for you could be to reduce your own meat consumption and to question your mobility behavior. There are countless small and feasible ways to reduce emissions.

Well-founded information on the global climate crisis and very specific and well-prepared climate action tips for everyday life are now available in abundance on the internet. Therefore we don't want to and don't need to reinvent the wheel at this point.

We are currently offering you a compilation of sound sources of climate change research and an overview of tips for climate action in everyday life. In the next few years, however, we want to build our own library for effective and easily implementable climate action tips in everyday life.

All of us in Europe are responsible for an average of 8.6 t of harmful greenhouse gases per person per year according to the most recent statistical data. This corresponds to around 0,72 t of greenhouse gas per month and person in Europe. 

Even if we try very hard to reduce as many emissions as possible in everyday life - we will not be able to live completely climate neutral by avoiding emissions in everyday life due to our western lifestyle and the associated emissions.

Carbon offsetting - is it indulgence trade?

That is exactly why we offer the opportunity to offset your carbon footprint, after all personal  carbon reduction efforts were made. Your money invested goes directly to international certified carbon reduction projects.

From an economic and social point of view, it makes more sense to save greenhouse gas emissions in technically and socially less developed countries. There, the positive effect of your money invested is usually much larger than in Europe. Because of this, our carbon reduction projects are based in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

Many critics of the principle of carbon offsetting claim that compensation payments for carbon emissions only calm one's conscience, but the real challenge - namely reducing your own carbon footprint - is being neglected. A medieval indulgence trade is often assumed, in which we can buy ourselves free from our sins without having to change our behavior.

We see this differently! This is for two reasons.

  • First, the rapidly advancing climate crisis leaves us no more time - we have to take action now. Of course, we first have to sustainably avoid and reduce our emissions. But in any case it always makes more sense to offset a ton of carbon today that we currently cannot/don't want to reduce and thus avoid it elsewhere rather than to wait until this ton can be avoided at some point in the future. We simply don't have the time for this. Carbon offsetting with certified carbon reduction projects enables a meaningful temporal bridge to the very necessary carbon avoidance in the future. As already described above: in today's society it is not (yet) possible for us to reduce our own carbon footprint to zero. In the end, all that remains is to offset our remaining greenhouse gases.
  • Second, scientific research clearly shows that users of carbon offset offerings are characterized by a high level of environmental awareness anyway. The scientists come to the conclusion that carbon offsetting is not just about “selling indulgences”, but rather the instrument enables the offsetting of emissions that are difficult to avoid, which leads to more climate action overall.  

This happens with your money 

One of the first questions that many of you ask us is always a legitimate concern about what exactly is going on with the contribution you have made for your carbon offset.

We at GoClimateAction are part of the "planetgood Ltd.". This is a small organization with low transaction costs and currently four volunteer employees. This enables us to ensure that only a comparatively small part of your money is used for administrative or advertising purposes. Nevertheless, the establishment and professional management of a company requires healthy finances. It is therefore our goal to provide our employees with a salary as soon as possible and to further expand our initiative.

In principle, when using your funds, we refer to the donation seal of the Foundation of the German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI) where the advertising and administrative costs per € spent should not be more than a third of the contribution made. The majority of your contribution will therefore always be used to purchase carbon credits from certified carbon reduction projects and thus flows to the climate action projects.

Compared to other providers in the field of carbon offsetting we are among the "cheapest" providers with an average price of 14 € per ton of carbon reduction. We have this “price leadership” for three reasons.

  • Firstly, this has to do with our already mentioned lean structure and the associated comparatively low organizational costs.
  • Second, we cooperate in the countries in which our carbon redcuction projects are at home with very established project developers, who usually carry the necessary advance financing of the climate protection projects themselves. On the one hand, this saves us the costs of any loans or advances for project development. On the other hand, this also eliminates the risk that the climate protection projects fail and we could lose your money. We will only pass your money on to the projects as soon as the proof for carbon reduction and the additionality of the projects are certified by independent auditors.
  • Thirdly, our managing director Dr. Sascha Lafeld has been working intensively on the topics of climate protection, carbon offsetting and climate neutrality over the last 20 years. He helped developing the international quality standards for transparent carbon offsetting and has built up a large network of carbon reduction project developers in many countries. Sascha now employes this expertise and his network at GoClimateAction.

Why I don't get a donation receipt 

We made a conscious decision at goclimateaction: we are part of a in principle profit-oriented Ltd. and we do not issue any donation receipts for your carbon offset payments.

We are firmly convinced that as long as climate action activities are only understood as donations, we will not achieve the level of climate action that is necessary to keep this planet worth living in. We have to firmly integrate climate action into our profit-oriented economic system and not see it as a donation issue.

In addition, we would like to convince you of our offereing not only by issuing a donation receipt to live climate neutral, but also by providing useful information on climate action and the high quality of our carbon offset offers. To be able to offer such a high-quality service professionally requires resources and must be economical. With planetgood Ltd. we want to show that our market oriented economies can also function sustainably for the good of the planet, and not just - as is currently practiced to a large extent - for its damage. This is the only way we believe that we can turn the corner towards more climate action within our existing economic system.

Pricing of carbon reduction certificates

For all of you who want to know more, here are some insights on how the pricing of carbon reduction certificates works. The prices for carbon reduction certificates usually differ from project to project. The pricing is based on the following criteria:

  • Quality standard: Carbon reduction projects according to the Gold Standard are usually more costly than projects under the Verified Carbon Standard. This is mainly due to the fact that in addition to the carbon reduction, social criteria still have to be checked by the external project certifiers under the Gold Standard.
  • Project size: A large wind farm saves significantly more carbon compared to a project in which family biogas plants are built and maintained at significantly lower monitoring costs per ton. This has a corresponding effect on the price of the reduction credits.
  • Project type and location: For certain project types (i.e. reforestation, efficient cookstoves) there is comparatively more demand and a correspondingly lower available supply of carbon reduction credits. This leads to higher prices. The same applies to project locations – here, too, the market price factors in the geography of a carbon reduction project (i.e.. African projects are higher in price than comparable projects in India).
  • Quantity of emission reduction credits purchased: Volume discounts are also common standard in the market for emission reduction certificates. These discounts are to be justified economically, since as the purchase volume increases, the transaction costs of the purchase can be transferred to a larger quantity of emission reductions. This reduces transaction costs per tonne of carbon saved, which reduces the price of credits when the purchase volume is higher.

14€/t per CO2-reduction certificate is our average price, which is based on the prices of carbon reduction certificates from all 9 climate protection projects we support on average.

If you have any questions about any of this blog post, please contact us via email at sascha@gocliamteaction.com.